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8 more quotes to make your copywriting soar

After publishing my previous post, I decided a follow-up was in order. So here it is – eight more pearls of wisdom to sink your pen into.

“Sell a good night’s sleep – not the mattress.”

Instructor at Academy of Art University

A common mistake many inexperienced writers make is that they focus too much on a product or service’s features and not enough on the benefits it provides.
A feature has the potential to benefit customers, but it’s not, in itself, the benefit. A benefit results from the feature. It answers the customer’s most crucial question: ‘What’s in it for me?’

“I’m sorry this letter is so long, I didn’t have time to make it shorter.”

George Bernard Shaw

Achieving brevity in writing takes time, practise and persistence. You need to scrutinise every word on your page to ensure it fulfils a unique purpose. And if it doesn’t, get rid of it.

Every sentence must say something different from the last. And every paragraph must introduce a new, important idea.

Removing all that’s unnecessary from your writing is time-consuming – but it’s a vital step in the writing process.

“There are no dull subjects. There are only dull writers.”

Quintilian

We’re not suggesting all writing can be as gripping as the Twilight saga. But you do need to find ways to keep your readers engaged – whatever the topic.

Here are a few tips to help make your writing more interesting.

  • Learn how to craft compelling headlines.
  • Write plenty of short, sharp sentences. Short sentences have more impact. See?
  • Although shorter sentences are better, include some longer ones too. Varying your sentence length immediately makes your writing more interesting.
  • Include some rhetorical questions. Questions introduce variety into your writing and can make you more convincing. Why not give it a try?
  • Use short, powerful words. Boost. Thrill. Dirty. Seize. Taboo. Expose. Cure. Bright. Secret.
  • Avoid long, tired and worn-out words. Value-add. Notwithstanding. Nevertheless. Cutting-edge. Competence. Scalable. Tailored.
  • Keep your language customer-focussed. It’s always more interesting for people to read about themselves than about you.

“As to the adjective, when in doubt strike it out.”

Mark Twain

At school you were probably taught to use lots of adjectives – or ‘describing words’ – to make your writing more interesting.

But are these adjectives interesting to you? Great. Awesome. Wonderful. Amazing. Incredible. Superior. They’re not interesting. They just make your marketing messages pushy and inauthentic. They’re also vague and meaningless.

What about these adjectives? Unique. Invaluable. Flexible. Dynamic. Innovative. User-friendly. These ones are so overused that they don’t mean anything anymore. They also make you sound boring and unoriginal.

Start replacing the adjectives in your writing with solid content that your readers can rely on.

 “You can never correct your work well until you have forgotten it.”

Voltaire

During one of my writing skills training sessions, an attendee interrupted my verbal presentation to announce that I had written the word ‘manger’ on one of my PowerPoint slides.

Awkward.

Of course I had meant to write ‘manager’ but never noticed the missing letter despite my countless reviews. (The spell check was no help either because the word wasn’t misspelt. It was just the wrong bloody word.)

It’s hard to proofread our own work because we are so familiar with it. We don’t see mistakes that others jump on in a second.

So if you don’t have the luxury of a trusted colleague or friend to review your work, you need to work hard to forget what you have written. And that means allowing time. The longer the better.

If time is tight, at least go grab a soy latte next door. Go for a quick wander around the office. Make a phone call. Do your neck exercises. Do something.

Then come back and re-read your work with fresh eyes. You’ll be glad you did.

“There are two kinds of writer: those that make you think, and those that make you wonder.”

Brian Aldiss

When you make people ‘think’, your communication is relevant, provocative and interesting. It motivates your reader to question the status quo and forces them to find a good reason not to contact you.

When you make people ‘wonder’, your communication is unclear.

Your audience should never be confused about the meaning of a word or the sense of a sentence. And they must know exactly why your message matters to them.

“Every writer I know has trouble writing.”

Joseph Heller

Every web page, every blog post, every article and every brochure I write is painstaking. Whenever I write, I sweat, I swear – and I grind my teeth.

Many of my sentences when I first write them come out wrong. I hate the headlines in my first drafts. And I look for inspiration in my teacup – usually without success.

But I persist. I cull, I rewrite and I tweak. And somehow I end up with something I’m proud of – something I am comfortable sharing with my client.

Never give up simply because writing is difficult. And if writing comes too easily to you, then perhaps the result is not as good as it could be.

Good copywriters always put in the hard yards.

And with that, I’ll leave you with one last quote:

“Hard writing makes easy reading. Easy writing makes hard reading.”  – William Zinsser